Although it has been around for decades, LSD has recently come back into the spotlight as medical researchers assess its potential as a therapeutic drug, along with other psychedelic compounds. Studies with these compounds are now being conducted to determine their effectiveness in treating conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and addiction.
Scientists were sure to mention that this would not be a standalone therapy, and would be administered under controlled conditions. As the negative perceptions of the drug have faded away, the research done in the 50s and 60s is also making a comeback.
Because LSD and other psychedelic compounds can dramatically affect one’s perception of reality, they have sometimes resulted in people harming themselves or experiencing psychosis, thus contributing to its negative perception.
Yet these rare incidents delayed valuable research on the drugs, like studies that have shown psychedelic mushrooms to be an effective treatment for alcoholism.
Dr. Matthew Johnson of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated, “Keep in mind that it’s different in many ways than what we may see in an abuse setting—when people come to the ER experiencing negative effects of these compounds.”
A small study at UCLA found LSD was effective at reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms, effects which persisted long-term in those individuals. Dr. Johnson commented, “We’re not talking about acute change in mood while the drug is in effect. People seem to have major shifts in their perspective, that is evidence going forward long-term.”
Johnson also pointed to an American study using MDMA to treat PTSD, which currently doesn’t have any effective treatments. The results of the MDMA study were excellent, and similarly strong results were shown in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and depression, results that exceeded those achieved using approved medications. Johnson added, “Across the board we’re seeing some impressive results, certainly worthy of careful follow up.”
If further studies show that these drugs are indeed effective treatments, FDA approval may still be a long way off, both due to the perceptions of these drugs, as well as the requirement to conduct much larger studies.